Monday, December 31, 2007

"Thank God Christmas is Over" (aka: Jaggy's Post-Christmas Rant)

My heart is no longer in the season. I don't care about your Christmas loot, your Uncle Ralph's big fish story, or your fantastic sugar cookies. The whole build-up to Christmas was all about what people were getting for someone else, how much they spent, and how the season was for giving. Two days later, it's me, me, me! "Look what I got!" and "How much did I score!?!" While I did have a fantastic draw--don't think I'm down because I didn't get anything (I made off like a fucking bandit)--I'm so glad it's all over.

When was the last time you saw other people with tasteful Christmas decorations? Seriously. Oh, sure, my house was tastefully decorated. I put up a full nativity scene (including a horse, goat, two pigs, and a boat--WTF?) in the front yard next to the giant inflatable snow-globe, six fake spiral trees, two wire deer, and oversized holiday greeting card. You know what? I long for the days when people put up a simple string of normal-sized lights along the gutter. Easy. Even a string of mini-lights set on the "chase" mode. None of the rope lighting, none of the lawn ornaments, and especially none of the icicles or net lighting. LEDs are cool, sure, but all things in moderation. No need to give your position away to Mars, right?

It's starting to feel like one o' Mr. Guy's rants over here. Whee! Keep reading...

Not all sugar cookies are created equal. True. But your cookie recipe is the best in the world? HA! Unless you spend your days in a bakery or have Super-Granny skills in the kitchen, I seriously doubt the validity of your ultra-cookie-baker status. I know. I've eaten a lot of sugar cookies. Know who's recipe is the best? Not yours.

Did anyone actually find a good deal on anything for the holiday? I was in store after store looking for those über-bargains touted in all the ads. While I did get a handful of stuff marked 50% off, I noticed the price mark-ups to be pretty steep in the first place. They're not sales until I feel like I'm getting my money's worth. That, dear friends, is what a capitalist market is all about: supply and demand. Until your supply price meets my demand price, no sale!

And while I'm on the warpath, what is this BS I hear about Santa being overweight? Some U.S. government agency wants Santa to slim down to promote a healthier image to young children. He's a fat, jolly, IMAGINARY guy in a red suit. Build a bridge and get over it. While I admire the principle, I think there are bigger problems in the world than how far Santa tips the scales.

Maybe if his sleigh wasn't full of so much overpriced, breakable, electronic shit and cardboard-flavored sugar cookies, he'd fly a little bit faster through the air, burn less reindeer gas, and deliver presents to your bratty kids earlier.

Happy New Year! :)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Post that Makes No Sense

I don't blog while intoxicated very often. That's because I rarely drink. But for some reason, tonight, after my fifth Edward Norton movie in a row, I figured, "what the hell?" Sorry if none of this makes any sense. I'm warm for the first time in two days.

I went to the store this afternoon and spent $20 on pop. Just Diet Coke, to be truthful. I'm a hopeless addict. Not sure why I felt like sharing that... but until I met Mom and Grandma for lunch in Albany, it was the most significant part of my day.

No dancing lately. I'm in withdrawal. My mood is growing more foul by the day, although craft projects are helping to keep me sane. I'm told there are a few dancing opportunities in Tigard this weekend, but I don't think I can afford the steep admission costs. First you have to pay to learn the dances in classes or lessons, and then they make you pay to show up and actually dance. Sheesh!

I sat in the tub for a while tonight, just laying there submerged. The world was quiet for a few minutes. No stresses, no pressures, nothing to keep my mind occupied. All the built-up tension left my shoulders finally. It was almost as good as a massage... one of those oily, relaxing ones. mmmmmmmm.

People are trickling back into town. As much as I've felt lonely and bored while they've all been gone, part of me relished the solitude. Even though I love dancing and being around people, the whole gig wears me out. I really am a homebody. With a mean sense of adventure.

Not making much sense in my head... alcohol screws with my emotion-colors. I am probably a mean drunk if I ever get that far. Funny, though, that I managed to get through four years at a "party school" college with frat-boy and sorority-girl friends, two pro-but-safe-drinking roommates, and I've never been drunk. Not once. I've been pretty tipsy, but no puking, no hangovers... I've never bought alcohol for myself at a bar--and only one, then, for my sister on her 21st. I wonder if alcohol makes me a better dancer.

And here I am. Not contemplating the mysteries of the universe with others. Not laughing or playing games with friends. I'm home, alone, neither happy or sad. Wish there was some great purpose in this post, but I don't have one.

In a non-materialistic sense, sometimes, it feels like I don't have much at all.

Friday, December 28, 2007

5 Products that Keep Jaggy Beautiful

In no particular order, the follow products keep me looking my best while at work, in the rain, and while dancing the night away. Oh, and none of these are paid advertisements. I'm just looking to share a bit of hard-earned wisdom from experience. But if you'd like to pay me... ;)

1. Almay make-up. While it's a bit more expensive than the other mega-brand-names, the quality of the eyeshadow and it's ability to last astounds me. It feels like I'm not wearing anything (and just about everything else does). The eyeshadow trios make application too easy. Many friends have questioned why I 'never wear make-up.' I do wear it, but Almay make-up makes me look like I'm naturally this good-looking (er, *cough*).

2. Dr. Scholls Tri-Comfort insoles. With narrow feet, I have to put insoles in my shoes so they stay on as I walk. These thin gems give me additional arch support and heel padding, but the 3/4 length doesn't crowd my toes. I think I have claustrophobic toes. I probably have six or seven pairs of these insoles, and I know I could never dance the night away without them.

3. Sonicare toothbrush. I've been using a fancy toothbrush for about six months, and I can't imagine going back to a manual brush. My gums feel sooooooo much better, and I love the smooth, clean feeling. When I first got my braces off, like every kid, I kept running my tongue all over feeling that smooth, non-bracketed grin. This toothbrush brought back that feeling. I never looked forward to brushing my teeth before I bought a Sonicare. :)

4. Chap Stick. I don't much care for lipstick or lip gloss, especially anything flavored or goopy. Chap Stick is one of those few things I always have with me, though. I go for the plain, unflavored, moisturizing kind... simple. Easy. I like that in a product.

5. Eucerin and Aquaphor lotion. Even though I don't use them often, when I need these two products, they deliver. I dislike lotions. I don't enjoy the greasy feeling of other lotions, and I don't want to smell like I just poured a bottle of cheap perfume on me either. Eucerin doesn't smell much at all, especially the Sensitive Skin lotion. My hands crack sometimes, especially if they've been wet/dry repeatedly all day (like when I used to work in a kitchen). Aquaphor gets the job done the first time. I can put it on when I go to bed, either under soft gloves or without, and when I wake up, *poof* cracks are gone.

What do you use to keep you looking your best? Agree with me? Disagree? No comment? Come on... share your secrets!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Where does the heat go?

Winter is here, and I'm freezing more day by day. My parents always kept their house warm, and I have never lived anywhere with such poor heating. The little cadet heaters in my walls seem to let heat out as much as creating it. They'll turn on below a certain temperature--independent thermostats, of course--but then never shut off by themselves. I must keep the thermostats turned down enough that the heaters don't turn themselves on during the day while I'm at work, and then I run them nearly all evening so that I can feel my feet before I get into bed. At night, I have an electric blanket. That has been my saving grace, although I wouldn't much mind having another [male] body's heat to share... any takers?

Tonight, I discovered that the condensation inside my windows has begun growing some foul, dark mold. Quickly, I wiped down the windows and sprayed them with alcohol all around. Hopefully I've gotten to the beast before it overtakes anything. Nothing more do I detest than things growing or smelling in my house.

Where the heat goes, I do not know. I've put thick curtains over the blinds in the windows. I'm creating draft blockers for the doors leading outside. What can I do about my stove vent, bathroom vent, or laundry vents? Does anyone have any suggestions?

Sitting here, I'm in warm pajamas, a flannel-lined silk robe (amazingly, both functional and attractive at the same time), and a down comforter, and I'm still chilly. It may come as no surprise that I am very much one to steal covers, enjoy snuggling, and generally hone in on guys' warmth. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find a guy that sees me as someone he's willing to share that warmth with. Cold nights, but they're anything but sleepless.

And don't ask me why, but I have a sudden urge to eat ice cream.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Studying Religion leads to More Questions

I've been studying on religion lately, and I'm not sure if I've come to any conclusions. I know the internet is not a valid substitute for a lifetime of learning and devotion, but gathering information from friends (especially of the pastoral type), books, and websites, I feel as though I've scratched the surface in understanding some of those foreign words.

Don't worry, I'm not about to go all Bible-thumper on you. I found what I read to be interesting and question-provoking, and I hope to continue learning about the different branches of Christianity and Islam.

Oh, yeah, did I mention that I'm not one of those biased people who believes that anyone that doesn't think like I do is wrong? I don't know much about other religions, and I don't see a problem with reading or learning about them. From what I've been able to discern, most modern religions have similar beliefs, if not even the same God (whatever His name may be): it's not nice to kill people, be nice to your neighbor, the man rules but should treat his wife kindly, and have lots of kids.

Aside from those broad and sweeping generalizations, I focused heavily on the bits that separate out the different Christian denominations. As I was not raised going to church every weekend, my parents did their best to instill good values. I have a hard time buying into certain faiths and don't appreciate other church traditions. I strongly dislike people who have a "pick and choose" mentality when it comes to faith, however, and resisted doing that myself. My faith is hard-won and more than once battle-tested.

So far, all I have is that I'm half Catholic, half Methodist. Which would sorta make me Lutheran, except I don't like the idea of closed communion. Close communion, perhaps, but not closed. I'm not a devout Creationist, but I am not a staunch [human] evolutionist either. I have intensely mixed emotions about infant baptism. While I think I've formed a stance about grace and how we obtain grace (or not), I still have some learning to do. As in all quests for knowledge, I've come up with more questions now than when I started. However, my questions are becoming more specific.

What does this mean for me, a churchless follower of Christ? It means I'm having a damn hard time convincing anyone that, although I don't go about things the same way, my faith is just as strong as theirs. I can explain why, but that's for private discussions. Because I'm not out knocking down doors or beating people over the head with a Bible, because I'm not sitting in church singing songs or witnessing to every person I meet, somehow I'm inferior. While you may not think that's true, I've found quite a few that do--some of them friends.

More questions in need of more answers. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Santa Brought me Spaghetti Sauce

I kid you not, five jars of homemade spaghetti sauce. And plastic wrap. Either Santa got his "Bed, Bath, and way, way, way Beyond" mixed up, or he's been smokin' something.

I celebrated the holiday over several days, first on Saturday with Mom's side, and then today with Dad's mother. Good food, lots of company, and gift exchanging. I tried my hardest to find gifts for my parents that they'd appreciate... impossible as they're impossible to buy for, but I really did try. They overcompensated with gifts beyond what I could have dreamed of--and I'm thankful for each thoughtful gift.

Santa really did bring me spaghetti sauce, though. He told Mom to cook it a few days early so it'd be just the way I like it. Mom even froze it so it'd last the ride down the chimney. I put it in my freezer for one of those nights I can't bear to cook and need some of Mom's wonderful sauce.

Seems like a silly gift, right? Nah, it couldn't be more practical. Hits the spot in more ways than one. Just needs a little warmin' up and I'll be a happy kid all night.

Have you ever had a holiday where you feel so blessed, you can't help but weep? I'm learning about that today. Not quite to the weeping yet. 'Cuz I still don't fully grasp how blessed I am.

That's been my lesson this month. It's a hard lesson to learn.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Unspoken Words Speak Loudest

If you were to meet me on the street, you might find that I communicate quite differently in person than I do on the blog. Of course, this is true of any person. Who we are as humans cannot possibly be contained within the frame of an online journal or even a penned one (although the handwriting is more personal to be certain). At the same moment, our existence without the ability to communicate is trifling. The non-verbal communication of body language speaks when we cannot.

My friends and coworkers have informed me that my body language is peculiar. When the need arises, my "poker face" can win over even the greatest skeptics. Yesterday, I was making a joke with someone, and it took them several minutes to realize my jest. I must remember that some people--strangers--aren't as adept at reading me.

This ability might suggest that I'm a good liar, which is not true. If the matter is of grave importance, I am literally unable to contain a lie. In all things, I've found the truth easier (painful, ugly, and disgusting, also).

These are not masks. They are not false selves. I am always behind the expressions and gestures. Sometimes, though, in the effort of self-preservation or in order to avoid being asked questions, I may pretend that all is well when the contrary is true. Few people, only two non-parental-units in fact, have been able to crack this code. Until very recently, it was only one. This trait, the ability to see through the invisible walls... I find it wholly attractive.

That is, to say, I find people who have it within themselves to do the same, to recognize a front and stare it down, a genuinely delightful commodity. It's more than asking, "how are you?" or questioning my silence. The profound desire to understand and listen speaks more than my body language can overcome.

At times, I am an illusionist, creating the façades people want to see. The misdirection is not to create false hope, but rather to entertain. The emotions are real, and the words are always true. I stand behind my actions at all times. Though I live my life as black and white, make no assumptions about me: nothing is as it seems.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

When Teaching Meets Dancing

As if learning to dance were not enough, I've been teaching some too. For the last six weeks (a total of five one-hour lessons), I've helped a friend instruct about ten couples how to waltz and foxtrot. The experience has been challenging and truly special.

Some of you might remember that my college degree was in Science Education. I adore teaching, but after not being accepted to graduate school, I followed God's plan down a different path. I love my current job, and I am confident that, while teaching brings me great joy, it probably wasn't the right career for me. I have a well-rounded degree, and I can use it in a variety of fields. I have no regrets walking away from teaching science at this time.

When my friend asked me if I'd help him teach, I wasn't sure I would be much help. He said he just needed a girl to stand there and make him look good. Oh, I think I can do that. ;) So I went. We ended up meshing well together in teaching the waltz. My weaknesses in explaining footwork were accentuated by his technical lingo, and his apprehension and organizational skills were (hopefully) compensated by mine.

We held our last class today, and my friend made the "students" fill out course evaluation forms. While I nay-sayed the idea at first, the feedback was very much appreciated. Everyone seemed to like our teaching style and wants us to come back to teach more! YAY!

I love teaching. I love being in front of people, sharing my knowledge and information, and helping them learn something fun. My passion for dance amazes me at times, and being able to pass that on makes me feel very good. If my friend is asked to teach again, and if he asks me to help him again, I would be honored.

Of course, the extra money doesn't hurt... getting paid to dance is an awesome thing.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Dancing Under the Disco Ball

It's 10:45am on a Saturday, and I've already had too much 'weekend.' Last night, I went West Coast Swing dancing at Tigard's Ambassador Ballroom. The night was amazing, and I learned a few new things. I had the fortunate experience of dancing with some very talented dancers, and I enjoyed dancing with friends.

But the disco ball made me sick. Who, in their right mind, puts up a large mirrored ball for "mood lighting"?! The reflections on the floor and walls prevent me from spotting correctly, and every time I look down, the floor looks like it's alive. Many other girls I spoke to had the same problem. First, we're turning in the dance, spinning all over at every whim of our guys. Then, the floor is moving, the walls are moving, and the damn disco ball is moving.

After one particularly over-led dance, I almost lost it. I would have lost it, but there wasn't anything in me to lose. I ate several hours before so that I wouldn't be uncomfortable - surprisingly a good plan. Every once in a while, I'd force myself to sit out and try to focus on something not moving. The disco ball pulled me in. The last Nightclub Two-Step didn't go well, and I owe a friend an apology for the last WCS. I'd already put on street shoes, so I couldn't spin, could barely walk straight, and had zero rhythm left. Awful, awful dancing.

So I was massively motion-sick and still had an hour-and-a-half ride home in a strange vehicle with the stench of corn dogs and wonky pizza and stinky dancers permeating my breathing space. ~retching noise~

I had a great time, I really did! Dancing was fun, and I love the Ambassador Ballroom.

Disco ball: "Someday I think you and I are going to have a serious disagreement." KP? Where's that shotgun?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Oops, Re-Gift!

I pride myself on honest blogging. I'm an open book about all that I'm willing to share (and there isn't much I don't put here). In that spirit, I have one more completely random and entirely "too much information" to say:

I'm a hopeless re-gift-er. And all those candles people seem to think I'll like because I'm a girl... oh, that's right. Re-gift-ed. The wonky candle holders that don't go with any decor... re-gift-ed. If it smells, sits around and collects dust, or is for decoration only (and doesn't get stuck to the wall), oh it's so getting re-gift-ed.

And I have no shame.

In other news, I'm going dancing tonight. I am not exactly thrilled about it since my face has decided to become a nightmarish zit zone again. While my false confidence usually overpowers the fear of social situations, I'm pretty much freaking out. Make-up isn't helping my face. I'm gonna need war paint. Here's to masquerades!

Oh, and four-day weekends. YAY!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Potluck this, you cross-contaminated nut jobs!

I find it difficult to be respectful at a potluck. I have a hard time eating food that other people cook in their home. It's nothing personal--and yet it's terribly personal. No, I won't eat your fried chicken. No, I don't care to try your "super yummy fudge." Nope, I won't even taste it.

Whether it is because I come from a family where the kitchen is sterilized before every use, or because I worked in a production kitchen for five years with the highest cleaning standards of any facility in the state... I demand to know where my food is being prepared. Simple ideas like washing hands and not using the same knives or cutting boards for different things--common knowledge, but uncommon practice. Disgusting.

I'm not pointing fingers or placing blame. Even when my own family gathers, there are certain people's foods I'm leery of, and there are other people's foods that you can't keep me out of. I know a few of my friends have worked in kitchens, and I know that their standards for cleanliness are quite high. I trust Rachel's cooking, Jenny's cooking, and Emily's... although Emily never cooks with raw meat, so I have less to worry about there.

Sometimes I'll even go so far as to not eat at other people's houses. I strongly dislike friends cooking for me, partly because I am picky with my food, and partly because I don't know about their kitchens. One of the first things I look at is the countertop. If there are crumbs or bits of food sitting there, I'm out. If I can, I'll check the can opener. Odd, right? If a person cooks often, their can opener is likely to be handy. That's one of the first things the Department of Health will look at in a kitchen. If the can opener is clean, it means the person took the time to clean other things too. Of course, if the can opener is brand new, the rule is out. But who has a new can opener?

I hate potlucks.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Not your Average Christmas Soirée

Christmas is coming, and my mom's family will gather this Saturday for our yearly feast. Part of me looks forward to seeing everyone and reconnecting with cousins who can't return a MySpace message... but part of me dreads the holiday. Last year, we were all there. Everyone. We talked, shared our lives, and listened to Grandpa make a speech. He spoke of family, and how important family is to us, how much we mean to each other, and the reason we gather and support one another. This year, though, he won't be making any speeches. Grandpa won't be at Christmas. The last twelve months have not been easy as the family has watched him slide into his dementia. On a very good day, he'll recognize his sons and daughters, but most days... most days don't involve much more than eating and sleeping.

Saturday, we will all be there to celebrate Christmas. Except Grandpa. He might even be there physically (if my aunts and uncles have the audacity to move him out of his facility and care for him for a few hours), but his mind and heart won't be joining us.

It's not that there will be one less person--one person in twenty or thirty makes little difference. We won't exchange presents or make any toasts, and there won't be caroling or pageantry. None of that matters to me, especially in the long run. I don't need stacks of pretty boxes under the tree, and I certainly don't care if we sing or dance or play games.

Christmas, for me, for my family, is about being there. Of course, we're there for each other all year long, but this one day is the most important. While so many other families celebrate their holiday with extravagant gifts and pomp and circumstance, too much alcohol, and elaborate prayers, my family will gather in a large living room without enough seating, and we'll celebrate love.

That's right: no gift giving. Probably no Christmas tree. No big sit-down meals. Just a lot of related people sitting in one room together talking, laughing, and being there. Of all that is human, in what better way could we honor the life of Christ than by celebrating love?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"Jaggy" is a conundrum... fix me!

Who is this "Jaggy" person, and why does she go by "Jaggy"?

I have the hardest time trying to describe myself online. Both Facebook and MySpace have sections for "About Me," and I never know what words to use. Do I take the high road and claim that I'm not all that different, or do I go the unique route and try to be witty? Do I use whole sentences, or do I make a list? How long should a description of "me" be?

You've made it this far, and you're reading my blog. Thanks for stopping by! If you're one of my friends, you probably already have a good idea of who I am, and you'll find even more nonsense in other posts. :) But, in the off-chance that you're not one of the six or seven people stalking me from my Facebook profile, you don't have any idea who I am.

And if you're me, you have no idea how to describe yourself.

How do you describe a girl that:
-likes Cabela's as much as J. C. Penney's?
-won't spend more than $30 on blue jeans, but won't spend less than $75 on shoes?
-puts applesauce on macaroni and cheese, but doesn't eat any condiments except ketchup?
-is a science nerd, but dislikes using science as an excuse for things?
-votes and has strong opinions, but doesn't like to discuss politics?
-is just as happy on a farm as in the big city?
-reads music and plays several instruments, yet doesn't often listen to music?
-loves to dance--and does so often, and is as far from athletic as possible?
-isn't really big or small or tall or short?
-enjoys long dresses and cozy pajama pants equally?
-is comfortable in both a woodshop and a gourmet kitchen?
-would never smoke, but chugs Diet Coke as if tomorrow is the last day on earth?
-organizes some things and not other things?
-loves the rain and being in water, but is anything but a capable swimmer?
-grew up in Oregon and doesn't like Nike, salmon, or The Simpsons (gasp!)?

I find myself a perpetual conundrum, or else a very well-rounded (although spiky) person. If anyone can come up with words that describe me better, leave a comment.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Silly Girl, Sideburns are for Boys

Sideburns are for men. Big men. With big, scratchy beards. Not women. And certainly not me.

I have had my hair as short as an inch and nearly reaching down to my lower back. For the last five or six years (since it grew in from the last pixie-cut), I've had it chin- to shoulder-length. My hair is naturally ram-rod straight, and while it will hold a curl with six gallons of hairspray and some glue, it's pretty much useless for styling. Oh, and it's brown. Not pretty red-brown, not light and silky hazel, but brown. Just brown.

For about a year, I've been shaving my sideburns off. They grew in weird, and when I'd get my hair cut, they always looked silly. I'm not talking about hardcore bushy sideburns, but little hairs in front of my ears that were untameable. So I kept cutting them shorter and shorter until finally, one day, buzzzzzz! off they went. I shaved them with an electric trimmer--the multi-attachment one I used to trim my bangs so often.

My mother gave me crap about it. My cousins did too. My friends teased and questioned and teased some more. So last week I gave in. I started to let them grow back. Oh man, what a bad idea! The first four days were a nightmare. I couldn't turn my head against my flannel pillow case, and my ears itched to no end. The last two or three days have been easier, but now I look ridiculous. My hair grows so darn fast that I've already had to trim them to make them even.

I suppose if this is the worst thing I have to deal with, then life isn't so bad, right?

*itch itch*

Sunday, December 16, 2007

My family redefines "odd"

In case anyone needed more proof that my family is weird:

Yesterday, I rode to Eugene with my parents to go to my best friend's wedding. We talked about a variety of topics the whole way down and back, and I'm pretty sure my friends don't have families that talk about such odd things:

-the economic and political state of the antebellum southern U.S.
-"The Talk," and when Mom had that oh-so-special discussion with me
-Oregon's history, specifically of Generals Grant and Sherman in the "Indian Wars"
-the intricacies of sugar cookies and appropriate frosting methods
-the differences between lean and extra-lean ground beef RE: the perfect burger
-remembering the vast number of places we've traveled around Oregon as a family

And if that's not enough oddity for you, we discussed the difference between black pants, dark blue pants, and those really weird blue-black pants that you can't hem because both blue and black thread stands out on it.

Deep, lengthy discussions. You should see us when we get really riled up about something!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Congratulations Matthew & Grace!

My best friend got hitched today, and I couldn't be more proud or relieved. Matthew and I have been friends since third grade--an astounding fifteen years ago--and I don't remember a single fight. We've never been more than friends. Our parents' backyards were separated by only a fence, so it's safe to say we weren't apart very much. We both played the piano from a young age, although Matthew plays much more beautifully than I, and we were in band through high school together. We've always had a special connection, one that goes beyond words. Today, I felt a little bit like I gave him away to a truly wonderful woman.

When we were growing up, Matthew would find a girl, date her for a while, and then introduce her to me. I was his Girl Barometer, though I never knew why my opinion of his girlfriends mattered so much to him. He'd ask my opinion of her, and I was always honest. I can't say that I ever gave him a good review. Last year, late on Christmas day, he brought another girl over for me to meet. She had the biggest smile, the loudest laugh, and she looked at him with more love than a person deserves to be looked at with. Grace beamed when she sat next to him, and I could see his heart sing as he held her hand. For the first time, I gave him a positive review of his selection.

Just shy of one year later, Matthew married Grace. They looked at each other today the same way they did a year ago. I literally know this man's thoughts at times, and I can't begin to understand how much he loves his new wife.

To Matthew: It was an honor to join you today as you celebrated with a wedding to your new best friend. Thank you for including me in your pre-ceremony slide show. May your lives be less Hallmark-y and more blessed than any sappy blog post I can muster. You are amazing, and I'm incredibly happy for you both. Congratulations Matthew & Grace!

P.S. Don't forget to take a moment and change that Facebook status to "Married." I know how long you've been waiting for that!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Another Week in the Life o' Jaggy

You know, if you take Wednesday off, the week goes so much faster. I spent my Wednesday in Salem shopping for Christmas presents. I think I got everyone done with one small exception. Not only that, but I stayed under my budget and got to spend time with a friend while shopping. Not a bad day at all!

Wednesday and Thursday evenings were spent decorating a friend's Christmas tree. A few of us helped her get the tree, set it up, string popcorn, and decorate. The second night was a bit more low-key as I cut out felt ornaments and made the tree look warm and cozy. As much as I dislike the idea of chopping down a tree, letting it die in my living room, and then having to haul it off, part of me misses the tradition in my own apartment.

My own apartment isn't seeing much of the festivities this year. I wrapped the presents I purchased in shiny mylar wrap, so they are all sparkley under my foot-tall fiber-optic tree. It's not much, but it works for me. I got a new scented oil thingy that makes the apartment smell like spicy apple pie. The first night, the whole apartment smelled as if I'd baked fifty at once! After a few days, the scent is more tolerable (and less headache-producing). Why can't they make a scented thingy that never gets very strong and lasts more than two weeks? You think someone would come out with such a product...

In other exciting news, the President of the Portland Swing Dance Club left me a comment! You can click the link on his comment to see a picture of me taking the actual video from the dance. That comment made my day.

Tonight's plans include cooking dinner for boys who are going to take me to a movie. Good plan! Then, probably hanging out at another friend's house. Tomorrow is Matthew's wedding, and more dancing/teaching dance on Sunday. Sometimes I wonder how I survive my own schedule and plans. Other times, I run head-first into my own life. Whee!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

An Uncanny Resemblance

You remind me of
the person I don't want you to be
the things I don't want to see
the life I walked away from

You remind me of
the one I thought I liked
the long tall swagger and
the shameless bravado

You remind me of
the contemptuous world
the bitter ghosts of my memory
the places I can't go back to

You remind me of
the questions I wouldn't answer
the outright perfidiousness
the nights you cried on my floor

You remind me of
the voice that cares not
the voice that mocks with open cruelty
the voice which makes mine weep in jealousy

You remind me of
the buttons pushed in haste
the sleepless nights
the careless kisses and unfelt hugs

You remind me of
the reasons I better myself
the laughter I seek
the love I have to give

You remind me of
the way things used to be
the way things ought to be
and the way I want to be

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I can't think of anything!

We've all used the phrase, but I think it's more true for my family than for most people.

"What do you buy for the person that has everything?"

The Christmas season is here, and my time is running out. I only buy presents for four or five people, and I assure you, they are the hardest people on Earth to buy presents for!

My father is not an outdoorsman, nor does he ever wear dressy clothes. He does not cook, and he does not need any more books, movies, or CDs. He is a craftsman, and I know he has every tool he'll ever need, some of them in duplicate. Dad is a geeky guy, but he's not a tech geek. He doesn't need an iPod or laptop peripherals. He doesn't drink, smoke, or gamble. My father buys what he needs when he needs it, and he only buys what he needs at the highest quality for the lowest price.

Neither of my parents are into spas or fine dining or wine. They do like to travel, but mostly they go around Oregon and stay away from the touristy places. They are not into art, fancy home decorating, or entertaining guests.

Mom is almost worse than Dad. Mom enjoys reading, cooking, and gardening. However, she doesn't actually keep her books (she trades them or buys them cheap and sells them to the Book Bin). She cooks, but she has too many cookbooks already, and she doesn't often make new things anyway. Her kitchen is fully stocked with every imaginable utensil, gadget, or machine, and she even gave a ton of stuff to me when I moved out two months ago. Mom's kitchen knives are great, and she doesn't need any more towels, spoons, or Tupperware. While she enjoys gardening, her raised beds are small and she doesn't grow much. Few tools make up for the time and water she pours into those gardens.

My parents strongly dislike anything that isn't useful. If the object sits around and collects dust, it is usually garage-sale-d the next season. While their home is decorated, the style is plain and simple. The artwork is almost entirely my father's own needlecraft or woodworking.

What do you buy for the person that has everything?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Dancing in Portland III

My weekend dawned entirely too early as I awoke and readied myself for the adventures to follow. First, I scrambled to get my stuff together so I could meet Mom in Albany to get a new cell phone. Our family renegotiated a 2-year contract and got new phones. I upgraded from a phone that was so basic that it didn't have a camera in it at all, and it's text-messaging was basic at best. I'm a bit sad that my ringtone (Mack the Knife) won't be on the new phone... but maybe I'll have something just as cool again. The new phone is an LG Trax. It has MP3 capabilites, a camera and picture messaging capabilities, and is Bluetooth compatible. Quite the upgrade! Mom also generously added unlimited text messaging plans to both my sister's phone and mine--though I have every intention of paying for my part of that deal. It's a luxury to be certain. Maybe we can even get Dad to learn to text message (first we have to get him to use one-touch dialing and teach him how to retrieve voice mails). The phones are actually larger than the last ones, but they're also supposed to be more durable. I'm cool with durable. :)

After the new phone exchange, I flew back to Corvallis and got the rest of my stuff together before meeting my friends to head north. We were out of town by noon en route to Newberg. The ride was uneventful, thankfully. We met another friend at his apartment and decided to go wine tasting. As many of you know, wine is one of those things I can't stand. The flavors of alcohol and rotting fruit do not suit my palate at all. My friends all tasted, though, and I had fun watching them enjoy (or not!) their wine. The atmosphere was nice. After that, we went back into Newberg and watched Beyond the Sea (Kevin Spacey's homage to Bobby Darin), a fantastic movie and experience that I very much enjoyed for the third time. We talked for a bit before leaving town. Hungry, we sought out food between Newberg and Clackamas.

You might think finding a restaurant and deciding to eat there would be an easy task, right? Oh no. We drove and drove. Finally, in a fit of insanity or genius (often one in the same for me), I remembered that we were likely close to Sweet Tomatoes. In the process of calling Dad to get directions, we actually drove right by it. Sometimes I worry about my own mind and how it connects things... anyway, that's where we ate. The line was a bit long, but I did get to see a couple friends from high school while we were there. Good food, great muffins.

Then, on to dancing! We were quite early, but we did get to see a new Nightclub Two-step move being taught. Sunnyside Grange is a weird place. The architecture is early-20th century, and the wood floors are fantastic for dancing. I'm not sure exactly how big the main room is, but I bet 100 people could dance without much trouble. The dance is hosted at the grange by the Portland Swing Dance Club. Everyone is nice, and while I prefer to dance with people I already know, I haven't danced with hardly any creepy men in the several times I've been up there. As the night wore on, the crowd thinned out. The dancing continued right up to midnight, and I know I was ready to drop at that point.

At the very end of the dance, one of the guys from OSU helped me figure out what I've been doing wrong with my West Coast Swing. With very little time to practice, we worked through as much as we could. I'm thankful for his input, and I'm learning to listen to the music slightly differently than I used to. Which is pretty astounding in itself: I know music, and I've spend years fine-tuning my ears to music, and with dance I've heard it even more differently. I adore seeing something old in a new way, and he sparked a new interest for me in dancing. Yay!

Finally, the night came to a close. We drove home--and I may have slept on the way home, but I couldn't tell. The heater in the car dried out my contacts so badly that I couldn't keep my eyes open through all the pain. I've never kept quiet that long on a 2-hour car ride home, either. Crazy adventure, and well-worth the cost of dinner and dancing.

Here's to a dance coma the day after! Zzzzzzz...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Movie: Dancing at Sunnyside Grange

Warning: This movie will likely cause motion sickness. I got motion-sick dancing, so imagine how much fun it looks on camera! More pictures and a detailed account of the adventure to follow.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

No blogging - I'm dancing!

I don't have a witty post for you today.
I am going dancing.
I will update Bloggy tomorrow.
Until then, je danse.

Friday, December 07, 2007

So much for "Have it Your Way"

Not only did I not "Have it my Way," I didn't get what I ordered my way. Thanks, Burger King.

How hard is it to make a plain cheeseburger? Meat, cheese, and the bun. Simple ingredients. I don't want your disgusting special-sauce-of-unknown-origin. I don't need your warm, fake ketchup. Meat, cheese, and the bun. No, hold the pickle. Keep your damn tomatoes off my food.

Perhaps it was the fact that I ordered two of these plain cheeseburgers that threw a wrench in the works. Heaven forbid I complicate things that much... but I tossed caution to the wind and ordered two burgers. With a single smallest portion of fries.

Oh no, you had to give me two extra-huge-mega-ginormous "Fry-Pods" full of cold, limp potato sticks. I can't complain much that you gave me so much extra food for free, but really now, that's some sloppy work. Next time, could you at least put them in the freezer to warm them up? Even put them outside in the rain for an hour to dry off first...

Burger King slaves, I know the orders become monotonous at times, but my order was pretty simple. You weren't busy. There were no lines of angry customers with which to place blame for your mistakes. You messed up. I didn't get my food My Way.

I'm almost sure I didn't even get my food. Bad form!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

"You don't have to understand here to be here."

In a slightly lighter mood today, I was able to smile my way through lunch with friends and actually enjoy myself. My own moments of zen are helping me understand myself better. At times, I actually stand back and realize just how unique and normal I am. Not sure which I wish to be more...

My friends like to joke that I'm all about my blog, or rather that I post too frequently or make a point of updating about mundane details. While I do enjoy posting and love comments, I still feel like the blog is an extension of my thought bubbles. It's the written-down memory warehouse (re: Dreamcatcher).

Lastly, before I close this randomosity, allow me to pour forth a bit of adoration. While I do stick to actors that I enjoy watching, few actors bring me as much joy to watch as Damian Lewis. His new TV show, Life, airs on NBC on Wednesday nights at 10pm. The writing is fantastic, and the story arcs, while not entirely original, are fun and realistic. Lewis created a character entirely his own... and I get a kick out of his moments of zen.

"You don't have to understand here to be here." --"Charlie Crews," Life

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A not-so Haughty Spirit before a Ridiculously Embarrassing Fall

If only I'd had spinach in my teeth... that would have been easier to live with.

Last night, I had a few friends over after work. I have people over a couple nights a week, so this wasn't anything out of the ordinary. My apartment is always neat and tidy, and I didn't think anything would be out of place. I rushed home to have dinner with my sister before she left for her final exam, and then I hurried into the shower before the friends arrived. When I got out of the shower and went to put my undies on, I noticed that a relatively new pair had part of the waistband tear away from the fabric. I relegated them to the mending pile (it bothers me when people mend undies that are old--sometimes you need to let things go. But these are new and really cute!). I flew out of the bathroom and was burning some CDs to my hard drive when the first friend arrived. No big deal... I was clothed and ready.

My friends watched a movie with me. People were in and out of the kitchen and bathroom all evening, and nobody mentioned anything to me. I even went into the bathroom at one point to take out my contacts. After they left, I picked up a few things, turned down my bed, and walked into the bathroom. Staring back at me from the floor were a pile of my clothes. Not just any clothes either: I'd somehow managed to get only the most unmentionable clothing on top. I'm not very shy about my clothing--especially when I'm not wearing it--but it's the principle of the matter! Any one of them could have mentioned it to me, and I'd have swooped in to reduce my further embarrassment. Oh, no, not a single one of them said anything. I didn't exactly need my friends seeing two pairs of undies hanging out on the bathroom floor. God knows what they think of me now, oy!

Thanks, guys.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Calendars 2008

They're done! I'm not sure I like the new format, but they're done.

Every year, I make calendars for my extended family. I do the graphic design and formatting, my mother proofs the calendars, edits them, and sends them back to me, and then one of us publishes the calendars. After that, we obtain a padding press and glue the calendar tops to a stiff cardboard backing. We add magnets to the very back as well. Mom gives these calendars to each of her siblings, her parents, and now to many of my cousins as they've moved out to their own houses.

You might think I'd be fast at this design work after seven or eight years of practice. Oh no. I have to out-do myself again and again. The graphics went from those I found online to pictures I took myself. I used to hunt for days for the perfect background, but now I have a large collection of my own. They have to be landscape (direction), and fairly light in color. I'm quick to recognize what colors will and won't work.

The new format doesn't have little graphics in the "important" day's box: I simply changed that date's color. You can see examples of those in the December 2008 (lower right) calendar.

They work... the calendars, I mean. It's a nice feeling to walk into any relative's house and see my photography hanging on their refrigerator. :)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Stuck in a Book, Finally

I love beings surrounded by words and wordforms. I don't know why either. I see words in my head all the time. When I'm speaking, the words appear in my head like chalk on a blackboard. Each letter, the size of the letters... the shapes of words are important to how I perceive them. Of course I'm not alone in that trait--it's standard word recognition--but words rock!

Growing up, I always had books. I have tons of books now, bookcases overflowing and literally tipping out from the wall due to the weight. I've read some of my books so many times that the spines are worn and tattered. I would read a book a day during the summers home alone as a young teenager, mostly adventures and historical fiction. In high school, I had grown out of chapter books and wasn't ready for adult books yet... so I stopped reading for a while. In college, I loathed the assigned reading and stuck to history and other select pieces. I haven't read a good fiction book in a long time.

The other day, I was sitting at work when this odd feeling came over me. I desired to read a particular book again. Not a feeling to go home, pick up the book, thumb through it for the good parts, and then put it away again... oh no. I wanted to read into the book, to mine the thoughts and words for meaning and emotions. I wanted to learn and grow through the text.

That's a very scary feeling when you're in the middle of some hardcore, mindless data entry.

So I got home and realized I didn't have time to sit and read the way I needed to. I put it off, but the desire didn't leave. It intensified. Now I'm pretty strong-willed, and I have every ability to overcome my own desires, but this! This was intense. I succumbed. The next night, I pulled that book off the shelf and read. I stayed up for hours past my usual bedtime. I read the words and drank in their meaning and was calmed and comforted and the feeling has not yet abated. I need to finish the book. Again.

The words sing to me. They are inspired, perhaps divinely, perhaps not. I don't know. I don't know the history of the author, and I don't much care. The book makes me feel better about my world. Rich histories, vivid imagery... I wish I would have realized this long, long ago.

Gotta go. The words are calling me.